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Scholars and the eschatology of Jesus

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  • bjtraff
    First, thanks to Bob for recommending Patterson s book, as it does sound like an interesting read. I am curious how it compares to Bruce Chilton s _Rabbi
    Message 1 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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      First, thanks to Bob for recommending Patterson's book, as it does
      sound like an interesting read. I am curious how it compares to
      Bruce Chilton's _Rabbi Jesus_, as Chilton, too, focuses heavily on
      Jesus' role as a disenfranchised outsider in 1st Century Palestine.

      At the same time, I was struck by something in Charlesworth's review
      of Patterson's book:

      From the review found at
      http://www.bookreviews.org/Reviews/1563382288.html

      "Patterson reflects the misconception of the Jesus Seminar that Jesus
      was not eschatological (chap. 5). This has become a joke in the minds
      of many German experts. Surely Chilton is right to stress that Jesus'
      vision of God is "irreducibly eschatological" (Pure Kingdom: Jesus'
      Vision of God). This is clearly the position of almost all engaged in
      Jesus research in the United States who are not involved in the Jesus
      Seminar."

      Now, I happen to believe that Jesus did have a highly developed
      eschatology, but I found Charlesworth's claim to be rather
      extraordinary.

      Is the view that Jesus was not eschatological confined pretty much to
      those in the Jesus Seminar? And further, does this mean that the JS
      view is pretty much discreditted, especially in Germany/Europe?

      I typically find arguments based exclusively on broad scholarly
      concensus to be somewhat dubious, even when I agree with them. At
      the same time, perhaps I am simply not on the "cutting edge" as
      Charlesworth suggests of Patterson, but is the belief in the
      eschatology of Jesus as widely accepted as he makes it out to be in
      his review?

      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
    • David C. Hindley
      ... historians have stopped talking with each other. Patterson finds this state of affairs intolerable. What is more, to him, theologians are not *them,*
      Message 2 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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        Bob Schacht muses:

        >>Patterson's premise for the book is a lamentation that theologians and
        historians have stopped talking with each other. Patterson finds this state
        of affairs "intolerable." What is more, to him, theologians are not *them,*
        they are "us"-- at least, he includes himself among their number.
        Furthermore, he does not consider that he has found the Rosetta Stone of
        Truth. Instead, he declares that the purpose of his book "...is to show how
        scholars have come to the conclusions they have reached over many years, and
        what these conclusions might mean for someone -- or a church -- who wants to
        take seriously their implications for the big questions that make life
        worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God? Whether
        one agrees with what I say the Jesus tradition means is not as important to
        me as the act of raising these questions themselves. It is the questions
        that matter. Scholars should not shrink from asking them. The church should
        not fear their answers." (p. xiii)<<

        I am bothered by statements such as his aim being to "show how scholars have
        come to the conclusions they have reached over many years, and what these
        conclusions might mean for someone -- or a church -- who wants to take
        seriously their implications for the big questions that make life
        worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?"

        While I appreciate that the results of historical criticism must have
        repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals, this kind of
        talk makes it seem, at least to me, like Patterson thinks critics such as
        himself *have* found a "Rosetta stone" for understanding ourselves as human
        beings with basic psychological needs that theology helps satisfy. At times
        I have mentioned my observation that the religious spectrum, at least in
        modern times, has a right wing that clearly sees Jesus functioning as a
        "personal savior" reconciling individuals with God, and a left wing that
        just as clearly sees Jesus functioning as the focus for a gospel of social
        enlightenment, reconciling society with God. Perhaps this explains the
        modern fascination with interpretations of Jesus as a prophetic reformer or
        wandering cynic-like social critic. Is it a coincidence that to many critics
        Jesus seems more and more to resemble a beatnik of the 50's, Allen Ginsberg
        of the 60's, and social radicals of the 1960's & 1970's, all rolled into
        one? It appears that we are simply gazing at our own reflections in the
        well, and a reflection that is at least 30 years old!

        >>He also argues that "the search for the historical Jesus should not be
        about replacing the biblical stories with history, throwing out the
        'confessionally biased gospels' in favor of the 'indisputable facts of
        history'." (pp. 8-9). Instead, he argues that we need the confessional
        elements to understand what Jesus *meant* to his followers.<<

        And what Jesus meant to the authors of Christian literature is all we
        actually can "know" about him. If anything about a real Jesus is to be
        found, it must be deduced from the rhetoric by which that understanding was
        framed. But to speak of their understanding of Jesus in ethical terms, as if
        it has tremendously deep meaning for all humankind in all ages, is "social
        gospel" ideology, pure and simple. Period. I would much prefer reflection
        upon the implications that their understanding had for later generations, in
        order to learn practical lessons that have their applications in modern
        times. For example, how did the Christian "church's" decision to
        anathematize Jews as they redefined themselves as separate from them affect
        innocent Jews (which would have been almost all of them) in the two
        millennium to follow? Can we afford to make the same mistakes again today?
        Yes this is a kind of ethical question, but "the big questions that make
        life worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?" are
        philosophical ones that can be rationalized any way we want.

        I say, if he wants to be all soft and fuzzy, move Patterson's books to the
        "Inspirational" shelf along with Og Mandino.

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
      • Bob Schacht
        ... Brian, I m more interested in the comparison that Charlesworth suggests with Chilton s _Pure Kingdom: Jesus Vision of God_, and David Flusser s work, such
        Message 3 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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          At 03:26 PM 7/4/2002 +0000, bjtraff wrote:
          >First, thanks to Bob for recommending Patterson's book, as it does
          >sound like an interesting read. I am curious how it compares to
          >Bruce Chilton's _Rabbi Jesus_, as Chilton, too, focuses heavily on
          >Jesus' role as a disenfranchised outsider in 1st Century Palestine.

          Brian,
          I'm more interested in the comparison that Charlesworth suggests with
          Chilton's _Pure Kingdom: Jesus' Vision of God_, and David Flusser's work,
          such as _Jesus_ (1997, with R. Steven Notley)


          >At the same time, I was struck by something in Charlesworth's review
          >of Patterson's book:
          >
          > >From the review found at
          >http://www.bookreviews.org/Reviews/1563382288.html
          >
          >"Patterson reflects the misconception of the Jesus Seminar that Jesus
          >was not eschatological (chap. 5). This has become a joke in the minds
          >of many German experts. Surely Chilton is right to stress that Jesus'
          >vision of God is "irreducibly eschatological" (Pure Kingdom: Jesus'
          >Vision of God). This is clearly the position of almost all engaged in
          >Jesus research in the United States who are not involved in the Jesus
          >Seminar."
          >
          >Now, I happen to believe that Jesus did have a highly developed
          >eschatology, but I found Charlesworth's claim to be rather extraordinary.
          >
          >Is the view that Jesus was not eschatological confined pretty much to
          >those in the Jesus Seminar? And further, does this mean that the JS
          >view is pretty much discreditted, especially in Germany/Europe?...

          I think it is better to put this comment in the context of Peter Kirby's
          recently discussed website with its survey of Jesus books, which includes a
          number of important American eschatological views of Jesus. In fact, I'd
          even put it in a wider framework, in which it might be helpful to invoke
          Schweitzer's well:

          Since the Renaissance, Jesus research has looked for a Renaissance man: a
          teacher, a man of knowledge. The early 20th century version of this was
          Jesus the Teacher; the late 20th century version was Jesus the Sage. But it
          was Schweitzer-- a German!-- who saw through this and understood the
          eschatological side of Jesus. There are plenty of American Schweitzerians--
          Ehrmann and Allison come to mind-- who stand in that tradition despite the
          renaissance. One might even invoke the criterion of dissimilarity-- to say
          that Jesus was eschatological is counter-cultural in the modern age,
          because the only eschatological prophets today are regarded as cranks and
          wierdos. Therefore in an odd sort of way, the Jesus the Sage crowd
          represent an effort to "save" Jesus for modern times by seeing him in terms
          of someone who would be a credible modern hero: a teacher, a man of wit and
          wisdom. So in this sense, the Jesus Seminar can actually be viewed as
          conservative! Ehrmann and Allison, on the other hand, view Jesus in
          terms that make absolutely no sense in modern terms-- unless you are a
          Christian fundamentalist, in which case an eschatological Jesus is OK
          because he is Different and stands outside of the Normal anyway. So
          although Ehrmann and Allison might not be viewed as congenial to Christian
          conservatives as N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington, they are nevertheless
          willing to conceive of Jesus in terms that are completely out of sync with
          modern cultural heroic ideals.

          I don't know if this makes any sense, but as is usual in such cases, both
          sides have seized on a piece of the truth.

          Bob
        • Rikk E. Watts
          David, It would be a fascinating study to see how much the Jesus we discover looks like the discoverer. Have a look at Marsh, Clive, ³Quests for the
          Message 4 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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            David,

            It would be a fascinating study to see how much the Jesus we discover looks
            like the discoverer. Have a look at Marsh, Clive, ³Quests for the
            Historical Jesus in New Historicist Perspective,² Biblical Interpretation 5
            (1997) 403-37. Wright comes out with high marks, at least at this
            particular point, because he seems to be one of the few to explicitly
            recognize this danger. I remember reading with amazement a remark by
            Koester who with sheer delight expressed his surprise at how much the Jesus
            we were discovering was like us and resonated with our concerns. And this
            without a tinge of irony or a blush.

            Rikk

            on 7/4/02 9:02 AM, David C. Hindley at dhindley@... wrote:

            > Bob Schacht muses:
            >
            >>> >>Patterson's premise for the book is a lamentation that theologians and
            > historians have stopped talking with each other. Patterson finds this state
            > of affairs "intolerable." What is more, to him, theologians are not *them,*
            > they are "us"-- at least, he includes himself among their number.
            > Furthermore, he does not consider that he has found the Rosetta Stone of
            > Truth. Instead, he declares that the purpose of his book "...is to show how
            > scholars have come to the conclusions they have reached over many years, and
            > what these conclusions might mean for someone -- or a church -- who wants to
            > take seriously their implications for the big questions that make life
            > worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God? Whether
            > one agrees with what I say the Jesus tradition means is not as important to
            > me as the act of raising these questions themselves. It is the questions
            > that matter. Scholars should not shrink from asking them. The church should
            > not fear their answers." (p. xiii)<<
            >
            > I am bothered by statements such as his aim being to "show how scholars have
            > come to the conclusions they have reached over many years, and what these
            > conclusions might mean for someone -- or a church -- who wants to take
            > seriously their implications for the big questions that make life
            > worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?"
            >
            > While I appreciate that the results of historical criticism must have
            > repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals, this kind of
            > talk makes it seem, at least to me, like Patterson thinks critics such as
            > himself *have* found a "Rosetta stone" for understanding ourselves as human
            > beings with basic psychological needs that theology helps satisfy. At times
            > I have mentioned my observation that the religious spectrum, at least in
            > modern times, has a right wing that clearly sees Jesus functioning as a
            > "personal savior" reconciling individuals with God, and a left wing that
            > just as clearly sees Jesus functioning as the focus for a gospel of social
            > enlightenment, reconciling society with God. Perhaps this explains the
            > modern fascination with interpretations of Jesus as a prophetic reformer or
            > wandering cynic-like social critic. Is it a coincidence that to many critics
            > Jesus seems more and more to resemble a beatnik of the 50's, Allen Ginsberg
            > of the 60's, and social radicals of the 1960's & 1970's, all rolled into
            > one? It appears that we are simply gazing at our own reflections in the
            > well, and a reflection that is at least 30 years old!
            >
            >>> >>He also argues that "the search for the historical Jesus should not be
            > about replacing the biblical stories with history, throwing out the
            > 'confessionally biased gospels' in favor of the 'indisputable facts of
            > history'." (pp. 8-9). Instead, he argues that we need the confessional
            > elements to understand what Jesus *meant* to his followers.<<
            >
            > And what Jesus meant to the authors of Christian literature is all we
            > actually can "know" about him. If anything about a real Jesus is to be
            > found, it must be deduced from the rhetoric by which that understanding was
            > framed. But to speak of their understanding of Jesus in ethical terms, as if
            > it has tremendously deep meaning for all humankind in all ages, is "social
            > gospel" ideology, pure and simple. Period. I would much prefer reflection
            > upon the implications that their understanding had for later generations, in
            > order to learn practical lessons that have their applications in modern
            > times. For example, how did the Christian "church's" decision to
            > anathematize Jews as they redefined themselves as separate from them affect
            > innocent Jews (which would have been almost all of them) in the two
            > millennium to follow? Can we afford to make the same mistakes again today?
            > Yes this is a kind of ethical question, but "the big questions that make
            > life worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?" are
            > philosophical ones that can be rationalized any way we want.
            >
            > I say, if he wants to be all soft and fuzzy, move Patterson's books to the
            > "Inspirational" shelf along with Og Mandino.
            >
            > Respectfully,
            >
            > Dave Hindley
            > Cleveland, Ohio, USA
            >
            >
            >
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            Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab) Ph. (604) 224 3245
            Associate Professor of NT Fax. (604) 224 3097
            Regent College
            5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver, V6T 2E4



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • bjtraff
            ... I suppose the question begs as to why Patterson does not reference these other works if they address similar themes. After all, if we want to discover
            Message 5 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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              --- In crosstalk2@y..., Bob Schacht <bobschacht@i...> wrote:

              >I'm more interested in the comparison that Charlesworth suggests
              >with Chilton's _Pure Kingdom: Jesus' Vision of God_, and David
              >Flusser's work, such as _Jesus_ (1997, with R. Steven Notley)

              I suppose the question begs as to why Patterson does not reference
              these other works if they address similar themes. After all, if we
              want to "discover" the God of Jesus, it would make sense to compare
              one's own thesis to that of other scholars that have blazed this
              trail before.

              I wrote:
              >Now, I happen to believe that Jesus did have a highly developed
              >eschatology, but I found Charlesworth's claim to be rather
              >extraordinary.
              >Is the view that Jesus was not eschatological confined pretty much to
              >those in the Jesus Seminar? And further, does this mean that the JS
              >view is pretty much discreditted, especially in Germany/Europe?...

              Bob replied:
              >I think it is better to put this comment in the context of Peter
              >Kirby's recently discussed website with its survey of Jesus books,
              >which includes a number of important American eschatological views
              >of Jesus. In fact, I'd even put it in a wider framework, in which it
              >might be helpful to invoke Schweitzer's well:
              [Snip]

              Actually, I was more interested in knowing if there has been a
              broader survey of scholarly trends in which an eschatological Jesus
              is affirmed (or rejected) by the great majority of scholars.
              Charlesworth certainly seems to think so, yet if you read Borg, or
              Crossan, or Funk there seems to be little room for such a view of
              Jesus in modern scholarly circles. Does one school of thought
              dominate studies of the historical Jesus today in either Europe or
              North America? And if so, which one(s)?

              As for the belief that eschatology is rejected (by some) on the
              grounds that it offends their modern theological or ideological
              belief systems, this strikes me as interesting, but beside the
              point. The same holds for those that seem to think that Jesus was an
              end times prophet because they, themselves believe in the "End
              Times". After all, any historical inquiry is going to focus on the
              evidence and where it points us. Is it most probable that Jesus
              preached the coming of the Kingdom of God, and some kind of end
              times? Or is it more likely that the evangelists, Paul, and other NT
              authors take their own eschatalogical beliefs, and attribute them
              either directly to Jesus, or at least to the core beliefs of his
              earliest followers? What are the strength and weaknesses of the
              respective arguments?

              In any case, I am curious, how widely accepted are the respective
              views of an eschatological and non-eschatalogical Jesus? Ehrman, for
              example, has always struck me as a bit of a maverick in the field. Is
              he more mainstream in his belief on this subject, however, than Borg
              or Crossan (or even Wright and Witherington)? I do wonder.

              Peace,

              Brian Trafford
              Calgary, AB, Canada
            • Mark Goodacre
              ... Here s the conclusion to Allison s article, A Plea for a Thoroughgoing Eschatology The eschatological Jesus is theologically troubling . . . the truth,
              Message 6 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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                On 4 Jul 2002 at 9:43, Bob Schacht wrote:

                > Ehrmann and Allison, on the other hand, view Jesus in terms that make
                > absolutely no sense in modern terms-- unless you are a Christian
                > fundamentalist, in which case an eschatological Jesus is OK because he
                > is Different and stands outside of the Normal anyway. So although
                > Ehrmann and Allison might not be viewed as congenial to Christian
                > conservatives as N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington, they are
                > nevertheless willing to conceive of Jesus in terms that are completely
                > out of sync with modern cultural heroic ideals.

                Here's the conclusion to Allison's article, "A Plea for a
                Thoroughgoing Eschatology"

                'The eschatological Jesus is theologically troubling . . . the truth,
                however, is like God: we can run from it but it is always there. I
                myself do not know what to make of the eschatological Jesus. I am,
                for theological reasons, unedified by the thought that, in a matter
                seemingly so crucial, a lie has been walking around for two thousand
                years while the truth has only recently put on its shoes. But there
                it is.'

                There is something in Allison's tone here that I find admirable, even
                moving, and it comes closer to the pathos of Schweitzer than anything
                else I've read in recent Historical Jesus scholarship.

                Mark
                -----------------------------
                Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
                Birmingham B15 2TT UK

                http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                http://NTGateway.com
              • Rikk E. Watts
                ... Out of the mouths of babes... (Brian, definitely no offence intended); you ve just hit Charlesworth s nail on the head for him. I ll keep grinning all
                Message 7 of 19 , Jul 4, 2002
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                  on 7/4/02 1:37 PM, bjtraff at bj_traff@... wrote:

                  > .... yet if you read Borg, or
                  > Crossan, or Funk there seems to be little room for such a view of
                  > Jesus in modern scholarly circles.
                  >
                  Out of the mouths of babes... (Brian, definitely no offence intended);
                  you've just hit Charlesworth's nail on the head for him.

                  I'll keep grinning all afternoon :)

                  Rikk

                  Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab) Ph. (604) 224 3245
                  Associate Professor of NT Fax. (604) 224 3097
                  Regent College
                  5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver, V6T 2E4



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Bob Webb
                  ... In a 1986 article, Marcus Borg reports a survey in which he polled scholars on the question of the eschatological Jesus, both within the Jesus Seminar and
                  Message 8 of 19 , Jul 5, 2002
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                    Brian wrote:

                    >In any case, I am curious, how widely accepted are the respective
                    >views of an eschatological and non-eschatalogical Jesus? Ehrman, for
                    >example, has always struck me as a bit of a maverick in the field. Is
                    >he more mainstream in his belief on this subject, however, than Borg
                    >or Crossan (or even Wright and Witherington)? I do wonder.

                    In a 1986 article, Marcus Borg reports a survey in which he polled scholars
                    on the question of the eschatological Jesus, both within the Jesus Seminar
                    and outside it (Historical Jesus Section at SBL). The question was:

                    "Do you think Jesus expected the end of the world in his generation, i.e.,
                    in the lifetime of at least some of his contemporaries?"

                    Four possible responses were allowed:
                    - strongly think so
                    - inclined to think so
                    - inclined to think not
                    - strongly do not think so

                    Jesus Seminar results (21 responses):
                    - 6
                    - 4
                    - 5
                    - 6

                    Historical Jesus Section in SBL (18 responses):
                    - 3
                    - 3
                    - 6
                    - 6

                    Source: Borg, Marcus J. "A Temperate Case for a Non-Eschatological Jesus."
                    SBLSP 25 (1986) 521-35.

                    Of course, this immediately raises the question of Borg's definition of
                    eschatological as "imminent end of the world". I would think this skews the
                    results. I would think many would answer "don't think so" to this question
                    and still view Jesus as eschatological.

                    Bob Webb.



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Mark Goodacre
                    ... Good point. After all, one of the things Tom Wright is so insistent on is that Jesus did not expect the imminent end of the world, yet at the same time he
                    Message 9 of 19 , Jul 5, 2002
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                      On 5 Jul 2002 at 7:43, Bob Webb wrote:

                      > Of course, this immediately raises the question of Borg's definition
                      > of eschatological as "imminent end of the world". I would think this
                      > skews the results. I would think many would answer "don't think so" to
                      > this question and still view Jesus as eschatological.

                      Good point. After all, one of the things Tom Wright is so insistent
                      on is that Jesus did not expect the imminent end of the world, yet at
                      the same time he regards himself as strongly advocating an
                      eschatological Jesus.

                      Mark
                      -----------------------------
                      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                      Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                      University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
                      Birmingham B15 2TT UK

                      http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                      http://NTGateway.com
                    • Bob Schacht
                      ... It has wider implications than this, if we want to understand the growth and development of the Church in the early centuries, because such questions can
                      Message 10 of 19 , Jul 6, 2002
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                        At 12:02 PM 7/4/2002 -0400, you wrote:

                        >I am bothered by statements such as his aim being to "show how scholars have
                        >come to the conclusions they have reached over many years, and what these
                        >conclusions might mean for someone -- or a church -- who wants to take
                        >seriously their implications for the big questions that make life
                        >worthwhile: Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?"
                        >
                        >While I appreciate that the results of historical criticism must have
                        >repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals,

                        It has wider implications than this, if we want to understand the growth
                        and development of the Church in the early centuries, because such
                        questions can help us understand what motivated early Christians.

                        >this kind of talk makes it seem, at least to me, like Patterson thinks
                        >critics such as
                        >himself *have* found a "Rosetta stone" for understanding ourselves as human
                        >beings with basic psychological needs that theology helps satisfy. At times
                        >I have mentioned my observation that the religious spectrum, at least in
                        >modern times, has a right wing that clearly sees Jesus functioning as a
                        >"personal savior" reconciling individuals with God, and a left wing that
                        >just as clearly sees Jesus functioning as the focus for a gospel of social
                        >enlightenment, reconciling society with God. Perhaps this explains the
                        >modern fascination with interpretations of Jesus as a prophetic reformer or
                        >wandering cynic-like social critic. Is it a coincidence that to many critics
                        >Jesus seems more and more to resemble a beatnik of the 50's, Allen Ginsberg
                        >of the 60's, and social radicals of the 1960's & 1970's, all rolled into
                        >one? It appears that we are simply gazing at our own reflections in the
                        >well, and a reflection that is at least 30 years old!

                        Much older than that, since the observation is Schweitzer's, no?

                        You then quote me:

                        > >>He also argues that "the search for the historical Jesus should not be
                        >about replacing the biblical stories with history, throwing out the
                        >'confessionally biased gospels' in favor of the 'indisputable facts of
                        >history'." (pp. 8-9). Instead, he argues that we need the confessional
                        >elements to understand what Jesus *meant* to his followers.<<
                        >
                        >And what Jesus meant to the authors of Christian literature is all we
                        >actually can "know" about him. If anything about a real Jesus is to be
                        >found, it must be deduced from the rhetoric by which that understanding was
                        >framed. But to speak of their understanding of Jesus in ethical terms, as if
                        >it has tremendously deep meaning for all humankind in all ages, is "social
                        >gospel" ideology, pure and simple.

                        I think what you may be missing is that Patterson's method is meant to
                        parse the rhetoric into its various components, some of which have to do
                        with meaning, and others of which may reflect history.

                        >...I say, if he wants to be all soft and fuzzy, move Patterson's books to the
                        >"Inspirational" shelf along with Og Mandino.
                        >
                        >Respectfully,
                        >
                        >Dave Hindley
                        >Cleveland, Ohio, USA

                        I think this does not fairly characterize Patterson's book. Perhaps you
                        have mistaken my commendation of the warm and fuzzy parts for the sum total
                        of his effort. But Patterson, after all, is/was a member of the Jesus
                        Seminar, and uses as the basis of his discussion the red and pink sayings
                        from The Five Gospels.

                        Bob
                      • David C. Hindley
                        ... criticism must have repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals], if we want to understand the growth and development of the Church in the
                        Message 11 of 19 , Jul 6, 2002
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                          Robert Schacht says:

                          >>It has wider implications than this [i.e., that the results of historical
                          criticism must have
                          repercussions among the faithful who accept its principals], if we want to
                          understand the growth and development of the Church in the early centuries,
                          because such questions can help us understand what motivated early
                          Christians.<<

                          I doubt that we are going to discover how ancients answered questions like:
                          "Who am I? What is life for? What is real? Who is God?" in the way Patterson
                          would like us to. I am even doubtful the ancients would have asked these
                          questions in the form some of these take. "Who is God?" should be "Which
                          God?" One of the others is pretty cut & dried: "Who am I?" "Why, you are a
                          low-level retainer of me, an elite big-wig, mainly because you are a
                          non-inheriting son with no land to farm, and you can't learn a trade, so get
                          back to work."

                          The middle two, however, might be better asked as "Is this all there is?"
                          How various communities answered that question might be illuminated by the
                          study of Thomas and other early Christian documents. Yet the POV of Thomas
                          does not appear to be reflected strongly in early Christian theology,
                          including even the early Christian gnostic circles. It is a side track to
                          the mainline, but there is this strange modern insistence in thinking of it
                          as an important marshalling yard to the mainline. Why?

                          >>Much older than that, since the observation is Schweitzer's, no?<<

                          I was speaking of the modern reflections. Schweitzer, who popularized the
                          image in the well imagery, saw Jesus as a teacher of a messianic secret, but
                          not as a wandering radical social critic (at least as far as I can recall
                          off the top of my head). The well, to Schweitzer, was his commentary upon
                          the character of the then-modern "Liberal Lives of Jesus.' He felt they
                          reflected the bias and ideologies of the humanist liberal critics who wrote
                          them more than the actual life and teachings of an historical Jesus. Of
                          course that did not stop Schweitzer from doing the same thing himself with
                          his messianic secret hypothesis.

                          A couple years ago I read a magazine article on management strategy at large
                          corporations (since I work for one then as well as now). It said that the
                          buzz-words used by high-level management types usually turn out to be
                          technical terms used in cutting-edge trade journals coined about 10 years
                          earlier. The reason, I suspected, was that the high-level corporate leaders
                          were attempting to interpret circumstances prevailing in their own time by
                          using descriptive terms they heard of (but did not actually learn formally,
                          as no school is *that* "cutting-edge") in their business school graduate
                          programs 10 years prior.

                          I say, look at the social trends and popular ideas of the days when modern
                          critics were in undergraduate and graduate school, and you will find the
                          ideas that permeate their interpretations today. Not that there's anything
                          *wrong* with that <said while taking a step back>, but I feel the 60's
                          radical intellectual interpretation still dominant today is over-done and
                          ready for replacement. All the rough edges of the revolutionary Jesus (of S.
                          G. F. Brandon and some others) have been sanded off and Jesus has now been
                          polished into a caricature of a university professor, but it is all getting
                          quite worn out. Now if we stripped off the old polish and brought up the
                          grain, we might have another go at shaping the idea of an eschatological
                          Jesus ...

                          Respectfully,

                          Dave Hindley
                          Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                        • sdavies0
                          ... there is? ... by the ... Thomas ... theology, ... track to ... thinking of it ... Well, I think there s an answer to that question. Let s take your own
                          Message 12 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                            --- In crosstalk2@y..., "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@c...> wrote:
                            > The middle two, however, might be better asked as "Is this all
                            there is?"
                            > How various communities answered that question might be illuminated
                            by the
                            > study of Thomas and other early Christian documents. Yet the POV of
                            Thomas
                            > does not appear to be reflected strongly in early Christian
                            theology,
                            > including even the early Christian gnostic circles. It is a side
                            track to
                            > the mainline, but there is this strange modern insistence in
                            thinking of it
                            > as an important marshalling yard to the mainline. Why?

                            Well, I think there's an answer to that question. Let's take your own
                            observations:

                            > At times
                            > I have mentioned my observation that the religious spectrum, at
                            least in
                            > modern times, has a right wing that clearly sees Jesus functioning
                            as a
                            > "personal savior" reconciling individuals with God, and a left wing
                            that
                            > just as clearly sees Jesus functioning as the focus for a gospel of
                            social
                            > enlightenment, reconciling society with God.

                            I think this is quite true, although I suspect it applies to the
                            USA specifically. There is a third wing on the dove, and that's the
                            New Age, the Spiritual Questers, the folks who have become fed up for
                            good with the Christian Church of the two sorts and who want
                            something else to massage their spiritual goodness with.
                            Those folks are still Christian from their childhood training and so
                            for them the POV of Thomas is very reassuring.

                            As our very Stephen Patterson took pains to demonstrate, in
                            "The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus" book the Gospel of Thomas is
                            independent of the Canonical scriptures. It is probably
                            first century in date.
                            This fact is strong evidence against the
                            common presumption that because Mark and its revisions are
                            in the canon therefore Mark and its
                            revisions are the only possible ways of viewing Jesus (pace half of
                            Crosstalk). Thus as it becomes clearer that the canonical scriptures
                            are a particular point of view (or related set of points of view)
                            chosen by people who, we have reason to think, hated and
                            suppressed the POV of Thomas (cf. Irenaeus)
                            Thomas becomes the valuable piece of evidence that
                            Jesus was not either an American Social Gospel Protestant, or
                            an American Born Again Protestant… but Jesus may have been
                            an American New Age Spiritual Quester.

                            That's why Thomas assumes such importance to some. Just as
                            prootexts from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount become the
                            essential HJ to the Social Gospelers, and the Born Agginers
                            pick prooftexts from Paul, so the New Agers find in Thomas their
                            prooftexts of choice.

                            Oh, incidentally, I've revised and cleaned up the
                            Gospel of Thomas Homepage, especially in light of
                            the fact that Stigmata the godawful movie is showing up on TV.

                            http://home.epix.net/~miser17/Thomas.html

                            Steve Davies
                          • David C. Hindley
                            Steven, ... Questers, the folks who have become fed up for good with the Christian Church of the two sorts and who want something else to massage their
                            Message 13 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                              Steven,

                              >>There is a third wing on the dove, and that's the New Age, the Spiritual
                              Questers, the folks who have become fed up for good with the Christian
                              Church of the two sorts and who want something else to massage their
                              spiritual goodness with. <<

                              In *this* neighborhood? There goes the intellectual property values!

                              >>Thomas becomes the valuable piece of evidence that Jesus was not either an
                              American Social Gospel Protestant, or an American Born Again Protestant� but
                              Jesus may have been an American New Age Spiritual Quester.<<

                              Whew, you had me goin' there for a minute!

                              Respectfully,

                              Dave Hindley
                              Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                            • bjtraff
                              ... I m sorry, but which fact is this Steve? That GThomas is probably 2nd Century and dependent on the Canonicals? :-) ... Good heavens. The known first
                              Message 14 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                                --- In crosstalk2@y..., "sdavies0" <sdavies@m...> wrote:

                                > As our very Stephen Patterson took pains to demonstrate, in
                                > "The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus" book the Gospel of Thomas is
                                > independent of the Canonical scriptures. It is probably
                                > first century in date.
                                > This fact...


                                I'm sorry, but which "fact" is this Steve? That GThomas is probably
                                2nd Century and dependent on the Canonicals? :-)

                                > is strong evidence against the
                                > common presumption that because Mark and its revisions are
                                > in the canon therefore Mark and its
                                > revisions are the only possible ways of viewing Jesus (pace half of
                                > Crosstalk).

                                Good heavens. The "known" first century documents are in the Canon.
                                Those that "might be first century, but are probably second and later
                                are not. Yet many silly scholars appear bent on using the earlier
                                texts over the later ones. How odd.

                                >Thus as it becomes clearer that the canonical scriptures
                                >are a particular point of view (or related set of points of view)
                                >chosen by people who, we have reason to think, hated and
                                >suppressed the POV of Thomas (cf. Irenaeus)

                                Oh dear. Poisoning the well now? Is this why they elected not to
                                include 1 Clement? Or is it more likely because it is too late to be
                                apostolic? Now, if you could prove that it is a FACT that GThomas
                                was 1st Century, that would be interesting to say the least.

                                >Thomas becomes the valuable piece of evidence that
                                >Jesus was not either an American Social Gospel Protestant, or
                                >an American Born Again Protestant… but Jesus may have been
                                >an American New Age Spiritual Quester.

                                Hmmm... which one of these are the Catholics? ;-)

                                >That's why Thomas assumes such importance to some.

                                Are you saying that it is important because it is congenial to the
                                theology of some, and antithical to others? I thought historicans
                                were supposed to treat data on the basis of its independence and
                                early dating, as well as its probable authenticity and closeness to
                                the historical Jesus.

                                >Just as rootexts from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount become the
                                >essential HJ to the Social Gospelers, and the Born Agginers pick
                                >prooftexts from Paul, to the New Agers find in Thomas their
                                >prooftexts of choice.

                                Fortunately, scholars are above all of this, and work from the
                                evidence on the basis of how reliable it is in itself, right? ;-)

                                Peace,

                                Brian Trafford
                                Calgary, AB, Canada
                              • David C. Hindley
                                My apologies if my Steven should have been StevAn ... Respectfully, Dave Hindley Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                                Message 15 of 19 , Jul 7, 2002
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                                  My apologies if my "Steven" should have been "StevAn" ... <gotta get me some
                                  of them there spectacles>

                                  Respectfully,

                                  Dave Hindley
                                  Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                                • smithand44
                                  ... probably ... Canon. ... later ... ? Or is it more likely because it is too late to be ... Isn t it a bit odd to claim that the canon was formed of first
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Jul 9, 2002
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                                    --- In crosstalk2@y..., "bjtraff" <bj_traff@h...> wrote:

                                    > I'm sorry, but which "fact" is this Steve? That GThomas is
                                    probably
                                    > 2nd Century and dependent on the Canonicals? :-)


                                    > Good heavens. The "known" first century documents are in the
                                    Canon.
                                    > Those that "might be first century, but are probably second and
                                    later
                                    > are not. Yet many silly scholars appear bent on using the earlier
                                    > texts over the later ones. How odd.

                                    ? Or is it more likely because it is too late to be
                                    > apostolic? Now, if you could prove that it is a FACT that GThomas
                                    > was 1st Century, that would be interesting to say the least.

                                    Isn't it a bit odd to claim that the canon was formed of first
                                    century documents when it wasn't even the first century at that time?
                                    It isn't a FACT that Thomas is first century, but then it isn't a
                                    FACT that the canonical gospels are, either. I happen to think that
                                    both are, but how could it truly be a fact without external evidence?

                                    Best Wishes

                                    Andrew Smith
                                  • bjtraff
                                    ... {Snip my stuff} ... Hello Andrew Actually, I was tweaking Steve a bit for his hyperbole, as curious assertion about the *factual dating* of GThomas and why
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Jul 14, 2002
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                                      --- In crosstalk2@y..., "smithand44" <smithand44@h...> wrote:

                                      {Snip my stuff}

                                      >Isn't it a bit odd to claim that the canon was formed of first
                                      >century documents when it wasn't even the first century at that
                                      >time? It isn't a FACT that Thomas is first century, but then it
                                      >isn't a FACT that the canonical gospels are, either. I happen to
                                      >think that both are, but how could it truly be a fact without
                                      >external evidence?

                                      Hello Andrew

                                      Actually, I was tweaking Steve a bit for his hyperbole, as curious
                                      assertion about the *factual dating* of GThomas and why it never made
                                      it into the Canon in the first place. As you have rightly noted, the
                                      question of dating ancient texts can often prove quite problematic,
                                      though I would add that this does not make the effort impossible. I
                                      would argue that given the criteria that we use in dating ancient
                                      texts, it can be more confidently demonstrated that many of the books
                                      found in the Canon are 1st Century. Using this same criteria, and
                                      applying it objectively, we can demonstrate that other texts are more
                                      likely 2nd Century. Can any of Christian text be called 1st Century
                                      as historical FACT? Well, perhaps FACT is too strong a word
                                      (excepting the undisputed Pauline's, which do look to be 1st Century
                                      as historical fact). After all, in the past I have argued that
                                      *facts* are pretty scarce commodities in historical studies. All of
                                      that said, I will stick with my original argument that all of the
                                      KNOWN 1st Century Christian documents available to us are found in
                                      the Canonical NT. Some of those books are very likely 2nd Century
                                      (i.e. 2 Peter and probably the final form of GJohn). But the fact
                                      (pun intended) remains that nothing has been proven about the
                                      apocryphal texts visa vie their date ranges, outside of the
                                      possibility that some of them MIGHT be 1st Century.

                                      As you can see, when it comes to the specific case of GThomas, I have
                                      yet to be convinced, but remain open to arguments that others may
                                      wish to put forward.

                                      Peace,

                                      Brian Trafford
                                      Calgary, AB, Canada
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